Posts Tagged ‘narrator’

…Or focussed versus whole-of-scene narratives.

Whenever you write, you make a decision about how the reader experiences your work. Do you want to write in first, second or third person, do you want an unreliable narrator, do you want an omniscient narrator?

Your decisions may be deeply considered or a gut reaction; you may change your mind as the piece develops. You may even experiment with multiple approaches in one piece.

The aperture approach, as I call it, is like a camera lens: you focus on one part of the story to present.  You see only what a particular character sees, experience the events through a specific pair of eyes.  It’s a little like torchlight; your attention shines on only one thing, and the rest is unseen and therefore unknown.

The all-seeing eye is the omniscient narrator, the one who can describe the feelings of each character in detail, and is party to all events.  This is more like a floodlit room, where there’s no chance for things to hide in corners.

I think the choice is entirely dependent on the story.  My first novel had four viewpoint characters and each character shared only what they experienced; the four characters together gave a fuller picture.  My second is very much based on what one character sees and feels, allowing me to explore a collapse from an external viewpoint.

I haven’t tried unreliable narrator in novels, but I have in writing exercises, and it’s very useful when exploring ‘shady’ characters – characters who you don’t want to reveal too early on, or those whose motivations are suspect.

This article is a quick reminder of first, second and third person (and a reminder I often write my blog in a mix of first and second person which is very naughty!) and here’s a whole lot of basic information on narrative options that’s worth considering if you’re not sure which way to go with your manuscript.

Good luck and happy writing,



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